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Willmar Utilities Commission OKs labor contract

WILLMAR -- A two-year contract with the 36 employees represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union No. 160 was approved Monday by the Willmar Municipal Utilities Commission.Employees voted to approve the contract Dec.

WILLMAR - A two-year contract with the 36 employees represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union No. 160 was approved Monday by the Willmar Municipal Utilities Commission.
Employees voted to approve the contract Dec. 7.
The contract provides an overall 2.5 percent wage increase each year. Hompe said negotiations began in August in anticipation of getting things done by the end of the year.
Commissioner Jeff Nagel asked what was the basis for the 2.5 percent increase.
Hompe said the increase was negotiated. The employees requested more and the commission offered less, “and we met in the middle.’’ Also, the increase reflects cost of living and the need to keep talented employees in skilled positions.
Commissioner Joe Gimse, chairman of the Labor Committee, said the market for linemen within the electric industry and the utility’s wage structure are becoming increasing concerns.
“And I think the commission needs to be aware that due to a number of factors including the reduced number of linemen that are available is forcing up wages in that particular field,’’ Gimse said.
“We’re going to continue to talk about the disparity - the difference - between the municipal utility’s wage structure for linemen and our need to hire and retain a highly qualified portion of our workforce going into the future,’’ he said.

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